Nanites, Nanoprobes and Borg Expansion

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Nanites, Nanoprobes and Borg Expansion

Post by geon » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:50 am

Nanites, Nanoprobes and Borg Expansion

As some of you may already know from my previous posts, I take the view that the Borg initially expanded rather slowly, until developing tubule nanoprobe assimilation, which caused a rapid Borg expansion in terms of species assimilated and technological progress. But the big question then becomes, what led to this breakthrough? Why, after so many centuries of slow, steady expansion, did they suddenly come up with tubules and nanoprobes? Since the Borg don’t develop technology on their own, these had to have been taken from an absorbed race. But who and when?

Let’s quickly recap the evidence for on screen Borg expansion to date. Species numbers can be taken as a rough guide to the size of the Collective. This will give us a rough approximation of numbers, since we have no way of telling the exact number of assimilations per year.

The first definite reference to the size of the Collective occurs in VOY ‘Dragon’s Teeth’ (53167.9 â€" 2376 AD), where a Vaadwaur called Gedrin remarks that:

“The Borg? In my century they'd only assimilated a handful of systems. It looks like they've spread through the quadrant like a plague. No offence.â€

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Post by KrazeeXXL » Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:35 am

the Borg, one of my favourite races and topics :)

You wrote a nice article geon. Your focus lies correctly and mainly on technological inventions/assimilations the Borg made.

I had to think about what the Borg are possible to do with their assimilated techs. Their is little known about them. Maybe if our nano-tec here on earth will be developed further some writers will gain more ideas what the Borg are able to do ;)

Some thoughts I have:

- Maybe they had some bigger wars in past and therefor the slow expansion.

- The strong expansion in the last years - I would explain it with a change in their strategic behavior. Where did this come from?

2 reasons we all know (I guess there are some more, we don't know as yet). Species 8472 and the Federation. The former is known to have some kind of nearby indestructable and insuperable biological tech and then there is the Federation, we all know at best.

So, I think that this expansion issue had to happen. At first they had "not the best" tech and acted slowly. Then, through their assimilation behaviour - other races who were further developed than the one the Borg assimilated in the beginning reacted better in fact of their higher "tech values". The Borg won and got better tech. And so on...

Therefor I like BotF - and it's cool tech tree. ;)

It's a little bit like in the nature. You could take the different kinds of poison as contrast.

And/But...

the strategic element. I guess the Borg realised and calculated a lot. They know the galaxy very well. Better than the feds or anyone else. An argument is that they began to explore the "fluidic space" where Species 8472 lives. And therefore they don't destroyed the Voyager!

What about other galaxies? I can imagine that they allready sent their scouts to some of them, or allready tried to build some "outposts".
Would be logical. I would compare them a little to a tumor. A bad one. You have bad chances to destroy it because it spreads out all over the body or at least were it's able to spread out.

So because they are only one mind (a huge one) the strategic element is important. They have advantages and some disatvantages, like all races have. I think the "one mind" is the biggest advantage and disatvantage combined. They can calculate and research fast if they want, but this means nothing if you don't have any ideas.
And then they act as one organism which makes them assailable a lot,too.
In chess you have just one opponent, too. Except you don't play against 10 all at once ;)

Therefore I liked the Borg in STVOY Elite Force who were disconnected from the hive for a long time and developed in another way than the "main-Borg".

To come back to the expansion. I guess they realised the 45th rule of aquisition: "expand, or die" ;)

And in their case they got a new good possibility/tech to do this. their nanoprobes and tubes and even torpedoes, which are more dangerous than the funny "hand to hand combat" we all know.

sorry my post is a little bit raw - had no time to overwork

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Post by severenth » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:51 pm

(Yes, in ENT ‘Regeneration’ Doctor Flox does find a way, but this knowledge seems to have been lost by Voyager’s time)
Lets not forget that Enterprise is a load of bull, that it was pretty poor at keeping with the ' loosely ' established timeline from TOS through to Voyager / Insurrection

Don't forget the unintentional link between V'Ger and ' the machine planet ' could be translated as ' first contact ' with the Borg
StarTrek.com wrote:Spock informs Kirk that his mind-meld did allow him to learn that V'Ger is lonely and seeking to learn why it was created. Furthermore, it is learned that a machine planet built the cloud and craft that house V'Ger.
and
StarTrek.com wrote:Kirk and his crew discover that the probe disappeared into a black hole and emerged at the other end, crash landing on a planet inhabited by living machines. After repairing the probe, the machines then followed its programming â€" observe and transmit readings to NASA. Spock deduces that these living machines interpreted those long-ago orders as "Learn all that is learnable and return that information to the Creator."
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Post by eber3 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:53 pm

The reason they spread slowly at first is probably very simple. They didn't have warp drive. Think about a planet at our current tech level, or slightly more advanced, developing nanites that take over the population. In order to spread they would have to build sleeper ships that would take generations to reach the next system, and then they could only assimilate if there was a sentient species in that system. Either way, it would then start over again. It may have taken several hundred years before they assimilated warp technology.

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Post by geon » Fri May 01, 2009 4:30 am

Hhmm, just another thought as to why the assimilation rate is 'only' 88.3 in 2373 Ad, despite the apperance of the tubule nanoprobes. This is the year of the 8472 war, so naturally assimilation would have been given a low priority until the 8472 threat was dealt with. Despite this, its still a hefty rise from the previous assimilation figure

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Post by Peter1981 » Fri May 01, 2009 7:07 pm

251 / 669 <> 2.6

sorry check your math!

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Post by geon » Sun May 03, 2009 2:15 am

Oopps, you are quite right, Peter 1981. I divided the numbers the wrong way around. My apologies.

It should be 251 species in 669 years gives an assimilation rate of 0.375 species a year. If anything, this really highlights the slow initial growth of the Borg!

So, the table now looks like this:

1476 AD - 12 species
2145 AD - 263 Species (251 species in 669 years: average 0.375 species a year - beginnings of assimilation process)
2356 AD - 6961 Species (6698 species in 211 years: average 31.7 species a year - microcircuit fiber development?)
2373 AD - 8472 Species (1511 species in 17 years: average 88.8 species a year - microcircuit fibers and beginnings of tubule nanoprobe assimilation but interuption of 8472 war)
2374 AD - 10,000 Species (1528 species in 1 year: average 1528 species a year - full tubule nanoprobe assimilation and beginning of recovery from 8472 war)
2375 AD - 10026 Species (26 species so far in the year but still in recovery phase. Also, further assimilations may have been delayed due to the problem of the 'mutant drones' as seen in VOY 'Unimatrix Zero')

Regards

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Post by severenth » Sun May 03, 2009 8:59 am

Are we at this point ignoring the possible V'Ger connection?

All though it wasent assimaliated, can we not say that at the time, they were technoligically advanced?

And at this point, is the relevence of the Borg in the Star Trek Legacy game worth including, or are we basing it purely on TV/Film refrences?
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Post by eber3 » Sun May 03, 2009 11:13 am

I never bought the idea that the "living machines" V'Ger encountered were the Borg. Why would the Borg repair and upgrade an inferior piece of technology? They wouldn't. All they would do is download the data from it and make plans to assimilate any and all sentient species the probe had encountered.

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Post by KrazeeXXL » Sun May 03, 2009 3:36 pm

severenth wrote: Are we at this point ignoring the possible V'Ger connection?

3 times YES!!!
eber3 wrote:I never bought the idea that the "living machines" V'Ger encountered were the Borg.
yea Star Trek Legacy LOL. 10 bucks I wasted for nothing. Story sucked completely and what the hell did they with V'ger and the Borg? More than ridiculous!

This story was an example for the same thing the whole game was. Absolutely nothing but wasted energy and bucks. I played this game for 5 minutes and became afraid about that it would drive my mouse into an early horrible dead.

Man I thought Diablo 1 used to have many mouse clicks but this game was.... lame and an absolutely epic "legacy" fail if you ask me. They were just to lazy to develop something new - so plz don't count this crap of "story" to official storylines.

I would say most of the Star Trek games have storylines I won't count in. And I'm okay with it because its just games. And so you can easily seperate good games from bad ones because good developers will focus at least a little bit onto the real storyline and won't make something absolutely moronic like this Borg+V'ger connection.

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Post by stardust » Sun May 03, 2009 4:12 pm

It's a shame none of the ST games are considered canon, I'd love to see the Chodak become canon personally :lol:

Nice to read another of your well thought out posts Geon :D
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Post by geon » Sun May 03, 2009 11:39 pm

The Borg/Vger connection was, I think once speculated on by Gene Roddenberry, but on screen evidence seems to be against it. In Star Trek The Motion Picture, Spock says:

SPOCK: I saw V'Ger's planet, a planet populated by living machines. Unbelievable technology. V'Ger has knowledge that spans this universe

Living Machines and Cyborgs are two different kinds of beings (one is a machine that mimics perfectly a living organism, the other is a fusion of biological and mechanical). The Ilia drone in the movie is an example of a 'living machine'. If V'ger was Borg, the crewmmember would have been assimilated and sent back as a typical Borg drone, complete with cybernetic attachments.

The term 'spans the universe' indicates that Vger travelled from outside our galaxy. Some have speculated that Voyager entered a wormhole and appeared on the other side of the universe. The Borg, as far as we know, are confined to the Milky Way. Also, the technology displayed by V'ger is totally different to known Borg technology.

So, for these reasons, I think we can safely eliminate a connection between the Borg and the 'Living Machine' planet.

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Post by Solon » Sat May 09, 2009 2:11 am

Wonderful post, geon, tremendous research.

One thing I would mention was the encounter in TNG's "Neutral Zone" episode. Your cronology indicates that it was after the Hansen assimilation, but I was much more interested in what it represented as to Borg activities.

There are two features of this that bear closer inspection:
  • 1) Scout ships apparently are sent out.
    2) They do not take everyone, just those in the vicinity.
Which brings the entire question of strategy into play. Any Fed outpost would contain a variety of species. And the Fed's have a host of colonies, etc. So, who to attack, who to ignore...etc. The whole business about Locutus, etc.

But I have always wondered why the Borg care? Just radiate out from a central point, assimilating and constructing new ships in all directions, and using the mathematical principal of the square and cube, etc., within a few centuries they would have the entire galaxy!

And why ignore primitive species? Why are the Borg snobs? Primitive species are still good cannon fodder, have arms and legs and with assimilation will have the entire knowledge of the Borg within minutes of assimilation. Their planets and suns will provide plenty of material and energy for new cubes. In short, the 'brute force' spread in all directions method would easily suffice for total conquest. So why be selective, why look for the best?

The sense that I get is what '7 of 9' discusses as almost a religion: "Perfection". That and the 'Queen' becoming something of a 'high priestess' of the religion of "Perfection". If so, then they are more like Iran than the old Soviet Union. Yet unlike most religions, the Borg do not seem to be interested in bring their perfection to those less fortunate.

Lots to think about, love the thread,

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Post by geon » Sun May 10, 2009 10:09 pm

Thank you for the kind words Solon. I just do my little bit to try to make some sense of all the sloppy script writing.

In answer to your enquiries:

TNG ‘The Neutral Zone’ is dated stardate 41986.0 (2364 AD). What it seems to represent to me is a long range reconnaissance mission to gather information about a new area of space. The direction of this advance may have indeed been influenced by the information gathered by the Hansons, but as indicated in the current article, the Hansons cannot have been the first humans assimilated since species 6961 (Ktarian) is around before the Hansons are assimilated (Humans = Species 5618).

In TNG ‘Q Who’ stardate 42761.3 (2365), the area around system J-25 (7,000 light years from Federation space) had already been exploited, so this may be the farthest borders of the Collective. If so, it is inevitable that any future probes would run into Romulan and Federation outposts.

The question of Borg motives is a complicated one. Clearly, their priorities change from simply acquiring technology (TNG ‘Q Who’), to biological and technical advancement (TNG ‘Best Of Both Worlds’ and ‘First Contact). Hmm, I think I’ll have to devote another article on this question!

Simply radiating their expansion out from a central point may not be practical in the Delta Quadrant. Quite apart from natural boundaries like ion storms, nebulae etc, and technical difficulties like transwarp travel, you have species that may actually stop your expansion if only for a little while. Species like the Voth, Krenim, Caretaker, and of course Species 8472 are certainly capable of providing serious resistance to the Borg. The Borg will overcome species they can technically defeat. As more and better technology is absorbed, the capability to assimilate these advanced species grows. But the expansion is not uniform.

I don’t think the Borg ignore primitive species. They would have necessarily assimilated ‘primitive’ species early in their expansion. But more to the point, species are assimilated because they have something that will benefit (technically to begin with) and enhance the Collective. ‘Primitive’ species like 262 and 263 (assimilated in 2145 AD) were added because of their knowledge of the omega particle.

Later the Kazon are deemed ‘unworthy’ of assimilation, probably because their technology and biological attributes are inferior to the current Borg standard.

So the prime focus of Borg assimilation seems to be improving the Collective by those species which can advance their current level. As that level increases, the benchmark for assimilation rises.

As Picard, or rather Locutus remarks:

LOCUTUS: A narrow vision. You will become one with the Borg. You will all become one with the Borg.

This seems to suggest that once the Borg achieve their biological and technological ‘perfection’ they will come back and assimilate the currently ‘unworthy’ species.

As to the role of the Queen in the Collective, this again is best dealt with in another article.

Regards

Geon

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Post by Solon » Mon May 11, 2009 2:28 am

As an engineer I feel I must speak out on behalf of the 'brute force' method of assimilation. Without overdoing it I offer the following:

2 raised to the 30th power: 1,073,741,824 (1 Billion)
2 raised to the 40th power: 1,099,511,627,776 (1 Trillion)
2 raised to the 50th power: 1,125,899,906,842,624 (1 Quadrillion)

So, one (1) Borg ship conquers a system and builds a second cube. Then the two cubes head out and each repeats the process. Followed by 4 cubes, then 8, etc.

Most galaxies consists of something like 100 billion stars. If we make the very high assumption that half of these stars have planets and populations (either unique or colonies), then there are about 50 billion assimilations required.

Well, by the time those 2 cubes get to the 36th iteration (power) you will have 68.7 Billion cubes wandering the galaxy. Even with a 25% loss rate you have more than the 50 billion cubes required to blanket every system in the galaxy.

If one cube can build another in one year...or two...or 5, the number of years required for total domination is not very large! This has always been my 'sticking point' about the Borg, i.e. they should already have taken everything, long ago.

Their failure to do so has led me to speculate that there must be some more important limiting factor--like dilithium (which is never mentioned in reference to Borg ships), anti-matter generation for those enormous ships or some other critical item to hold their numbers down.

Another possibility that is never covered is that of their 'conversion' rate during the assimilation process. It may be that they lose almost the entire population during the process, due to their crude capture methods (slices of planets lifted into high orbit and total vacuum) and intrusive biological techniques. If this be the case, then Locutus and the peaceful assimilation of the Federation becomes a very valuable prize indeed!

It may also be that the mere fact that they have contacted a species, like humans and numbered and cataloged them doesn't mean that they have any more than a few specimens on hand. Guinan may talk about her entire species being 'wiped-out', but in the "Matrix Zero-One" 'series' covering that interesting idea, we find a handful of Federation species scattered here and there in ships across Borg space. Yet all those planets exist in the Federation intact (...today...) and 99.99% of their populations are intact.

From this perspective it may be more appropriate to view the tremendous jump in the numbers of species 'recorded' as a reflection of the widening reach of their exploration efforts, NOT their conquests. The Borg may use the term, "assimilation", but it may be that the universal translator should have used, "sampled and assessed". The fact that they are limited to a relatively small part of the Delta quadrant argues decidedly for some critical limiting factor.

I have always been hopeful that someone could come along and 'fill-in-the-blanks' that TNG left hanging. I mean let's face it: the Borg are meant to be mysterious, enigmatic and un-stoppable. They are a literary device. Voyager unraveled a few of these mysteries, but by no means all...

But I have confidence in you, geon!!! :D

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